Asia Tatler rounds up 5 of the best options for custom-made clothing and accessories in Singapore
Bespoke Fashion for Men in Singapore
If you've found yourself lamenting about the lack of menswear options in Singapore, consider adding to your wardrobe with custom-made clothing and accessories. Besides offering a wide range of fabrics, colours and styles to suit your preference and lifestyle, bespoke clothing also ensures the most flattering cut for your body shape. It helps to do some light research of your own, but the experts at these bespoke brands would be more than happy to help you pin down that perfect cut and style.
What: Suits and shirts
Why: Because every man needs a well-cut suit, and Clothesmith offers quality tailoring with a wide range of cotton shirting and wool suiting materials that come from reputable European mills. Founded by industry veteran, Leslie Chia in 2008, Clothesmith's garments are cut to enhance or complement an individual's body shape.
Who: "Our targeted customers are the PMEBs [professionals, managers, executives and business owners] aged 25 to 45. But we have grown to include a very wide range of customers from undergrads, NSFs [full-time National Service men] all the way up to celebrities, ministers and C-level customers who like our concept of making the bespoke process simplified and fun," says Chong Han San, co-founder, creative director and managing partner of Clothesmith.
How: The bespoke service is available at the two Clothesmith outlets at Boat Quay and TripleOne Somerset. Chong recommends coming in your favourite shirt and trousers, and to be prepared to share your wardrobe concerns and personal lifestyle and work needs, to best design something that fits you. For shirts and trousers, the process takes two weeks (with one fitting), while suits usually take three to four weeks with at least two fittings in between.
Price range: Basic cotton shirts from S$160; Egyptian cotton shirts from S$230; two-piece suits from S$880 (Woolblend) and S$1280 (Pure Wool)
Clothesmith, 02-10 TripleOne Somerset, Tel: 6235 9767
What: Bags, holdalls, folio cases and brief cases
Why: If you're a fan of exotic skins, Ethan K is the place to go. As a fourth generation artisan in a family that works with exotic leathers, Singaporean designer Ethan Koh has been honing his knowledge and skill since he was 12 years old. He works with alligator, crocodile, ostrich, ringmark lizard and python. Of his bespoke service, Koh says, "My heritage and offering are genuinely rare in a world in which many artisan skills are sadly in demise, and I can effectively deliver truly special pieces to those who love the idea of collaborating with craftsmen; of having something created that is truly personal to them."
Who: The Ethan K label was launched two years ago, and has already garnered a following from customers who, in his words, "appreciate luxury, quality, beauty, substance and tatler_tatler_stories". They range from 20-somethings to men and women in their 60s and 70s.
How: Koh is currently based in London, but visits Singapore at least four times a year to take orders in person, where he spends time getting to know his clients to understand their needs and wants. Good things come to those who wait - the entire process can take anywhere between two weeks and six months, depending on the design, as each bag is finished by hand.
Price range: A folio in python starts at S$4000, while a large Ale Ale holdall in crocodile costs S$9,950
Place your bespoke orders at email@example.com
Shanghai Tang Imperial Tailoring
What: Day suits and shirts, formal wear, tuxedos
Why: If you're looking for a wardrobe that incorporates traditional elements of Chinese design, the master tailors of Shanghai Tang's Imperial Tailoring service will whip up something befitting of your discerning needs. Their signature aesthetic is a smooth blend of luxury European fabrics with Eastern elements of design, such as hand-made Chinese frog buttons on a classic blazer, fine silk piping on a sharp Mandarin collar, or mother-of-pearl buttons on a cotton twill shirt.
Who: For the dapper man looking to stand out (and eschew the need for ties) - Shanghai Tang receives about four to five enquiries per month for its made-to-measure menswear service, so you can still count yourself as one of the unique few to embrace this aesthetic of what Shanghai Tang likes to call ‘Modern Chinese Luxury'.
How: The first consultation assesses your needs, followed by the selection of fabric, colour and style. Measurements are taken, and within two weeks, the first fitting is scheduled. Shanghai Tang's Imperial Tailoring garments are made in Hong Kong, by eight master tailors who have learnt the craft of traditional Shanghainese tailoring, passed down through the generations. It'll be another two weeks from the fitting date before you receive your finished garments.
Price range: Suits start at S$3,450 and go up to S$6,225; shirts range from S$525 to S$575; velvet smoking jackets with Chinese buttons are at S$2,800
Shanghai Tang, 02 12-G Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City, Tel: 6737 3537, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why: Because you don't want to ruin a perfectly good outfit with a poorly made, ill-fitting pair of shoes. Having honed his craft since he was 16, Pierre Corthay's prowess as a shoemaker has earned him the prestigious ‘Master of Art' designation, awarded by the French government. The range of materials and colours leaves plenty of room for creativity - calf, suede, crocodile, ostrich and python are just some of the options.
Who: "It's very diverse - we have bankers, lawyers, CEOs of big companies, artists, collectors. We don't have just one type of customer," says Corthay, when quizzed about the types of customers he gets. If you're particular about the finer details and appreciate the art of a well-made shoe, then Pierre Corthay's shoes are for you.
How: Corthay's ready-to-wear line of shoes is available in Singapore exclusively at Malmaison, as is the bespoke service. Requests are taken at Malmaison, but expect to wait a few months before a meeting with Corthay himself is arranged, as he visits Singapore just a handful of times throughout the year. Corthay places much emphasis on getting to know his customer, and the design is realised with the wearer's personality and needs in mind. By Corthay's estimate, it takes about four to five months from the first fitting to the finished product.
Price range: From S$6,000
Pierre Corthay, Malmaison by The Hour Glass, 01-01 Knightsbridge, Tel: 6884 8484
CYC The Custom Shop
What: Shirts and suits
Why: A veritable institution, CYC was established in 1935 and was the first company to offer custom-made shirts in Singapore. Since then, they have expanded their range to include suits. Great for beefing up your work and weekend wardrobe, there is a huge range of fabrics to choose from. Here's a tip: for a lighter shirt fabric to beat the heat in Singapore, 100-percent Egyptian cotton in two-ply weave might be your best bet.
Who: "Our male customers range from 21 years old to over 60 years old," says Fong Loo Fern, managing director of CYC. "They are executives, professionals, businessmen and politicians. Some of our young executives include bankers, doctors, lawyers and scientists."
How: Tailoring services are available at any one of their three retail stores, where there are also clothing and accessories sold off the rack. For suits, it's recommended that you call ahead. If you're pressed for time, CYC also offers their service online - simply take your measurements, choose your fabrics and shirt styles, and you're done. Typically, the turnaround time for shirts is 10 days, but if it's an emergency, speak up. "It can also be done in two days if there is a special request by customers who may need the shirt urgently," says Fong. Suits will take about three weeks.
Price range: Shirts start from S$110 for single-ply cotton fabrics to S$225 for 120 two-ply Egyptian cotton; suits range from S$750 to S$3000 and above
CYC The Custom Shop, B1-06 Palais Renaissance, Tel: 6737 5332